Malaysia Wants to Stay Friends With China Says PM Mahathir Mohamad

By M. Grace, June 11, 2018 22:06 PM

4th Prime Minister of Malaysia(Wikimedia Commons)

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Monday, June 11 that his country will remain friendly but not be "indebted" with China.

Speaking at the news conference, the Malaysian PM referred to Chinese investments and projects during the Najib era, which he believes will leave his country with billions of dollars in debt.

"That was his particular way of conducting friendship with China," Mahathir said. "We will be friendly with China, but we do not want to be indebted to China".

During his first foreign trip in Tokyo after winning the election last month, Mahathir sought the idea of an East Asia economic group, in which he further said would be very useful in the face of China's increasing economic power.

"We have to deal with China whether we like it or not. We should deal with it as a group," Mahathir said.

Mahathir added that he was never against pacts like Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal but he clarified that TPP should be renegotiated, so smaller economies like Malaysia will have a chance to compete against China or United States.

He proposed the broad trade pacts such as the East Asia Economic Caucus (EAEC) to be modified.

"Yes, I am still in favour of EAEC," he said. "In the past, of course, we were not able to do this due to the objections of America, but now America seems to become isolationist again so it is not in a position to demand that we cannot form EAEC."

Mahathir's decision in visiting Japan was seen by political analysts as an example of a government's desire to put some distance between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing.

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